Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Town and Country - Shorter Artist Feature from Issue #3 Spring 1996

Derailers

Roots run deep

AUSTIN, TX

The roots-rock tag sometimes can be a kiss of death, implying a backwards-looking, almost academic rehashing of sounds that once were. But the Derailers look backward with vigor. A museum piece they ain’t.

“My grandpa worked on the railroads,” says singer guitarist Tony Villanueva in a reverential tone when describing the history of the band’s name. Not only does the name drag up images of early rockabilly, Jimmie Rodgers and western swing, but the look does too: “Before we go onstage, we get all dressed up: western shirts and string ties. We want to show the people that this is a serious job for us, and it makes us feel better out there on stage.”

Their sincerity shows on the Derailers’ studio debut, Jackpot , which overflows with energy and commitment. “There’s just so much in the old styles,” says Villanueva, referring to the Bakersfield icons of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. The Derailers have added a whole lot more of what’s missing in current country radio. Call and response choruses, for instance. And two-part harmonies. Fiery guitar leads that spark out of the speakers. Tracks that don’t need to be remixed to get heads nodding and boots dancing. It’s a record that starts off strong, lets up the tempo but not the urgency for a few ballads, and wraps up smokin’. The lyrics are rich with ideas that should have been tapped long ago: How could a line like “This big city seemed like a small town ’til you left me’ ” go unrecorded for so long?

The Derailers received a big helping hand from roots-rock godfather Dave Alvin. “He checked us out when he was in Austin recording the last Chris Gaffney record; I even ended up singing on a few tracks,” Villanueva says. Alvin ended up getting Watermelon Records interested, first for a track on the Austin Country Nights compilation, then on a full studio album. “He helped us with arranging the songs; he’s good at making sure just the right word goes where it should,” Villanueva says. The expertise has rubbed off. Already admired by their roots-rock peers and in their hometown, the Derailers plan to drive their music home with a full year of touring behind Jackpot, which came out in late February.

None of the band members are Austin natives. Villanueva and guitarist Brian Hofeldt are from Oregon and moved to Austin a couple years ago. Bass player Vic Gerard is from Wisconsin and met the others when the Derailers we opening for his previous outfit, Two Hoots & A Holler. Lisa Pankratz, who’s worked with Ronnie Dawson and High Noon, handled drumming chores on Jackpot.

“Well, you know, Buck started in Texas, Merle was from Oklahoma, and they both ended up in California. Brian and I grew up off highway 99, which also goes through Bakersfield,” Villanueva says, perhaps stretching a geographical metaphor beyond its limits — but the connection seems stronger than the miles of Highway 99 would indicate. After all, with roots like those, it’s hard to go wrong.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

Discuss

Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #3 Spring 1996

Cover of Issue #3 Spring 1996

Sorry, this issue is SOLD OUT

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »


From the Blogs

  • Your Interview with the Jayhawks' Gary Louris
    A couple of weeks ago, we announced a contest to give away some copies of the Jayhawks' remastered and reissued editions of Sound of Lies, Smile, and Rainy Day Music. In the process, we asked you to pose questions you'd like to see Jayhawks founding member Gary Louris answer. Fifty folks entered and Jayhawk Gary Louris… […]
  • Lake Street Dive Motorboats into the Big Time
    The usual pleasantries open the interview with Lake Street Dive's singer extraordinaire, Rachael Price. There’s a mention of a shared acquaintance and a nod to the band's previous appearances in town, the first before a tiny crowd at Norfolk's Taphouse in 2011. "Oh, I recall," Price says. "That was a very memorable show." I […]
  • No Depression Is Getting a Facelift: A Note About What's Around the Bend
    Ever since we announced that No Depression had been acquired by FreshGrass back in March, we’ve heard from many of you with questions, concerns, and ideas about the future of this website and the community that gathers here. We created a forum topic at that time so we could organize these comments and refer to them frequently, which we have done as we’ve dev […]
  • The Jayhawks at Shepherd’s Bush Empire (London, U.K. - July 18, 2014)
    A hot and steamy London night saw the Jayhawks' 1997 touring band play at this iconic venue in support of the recently released and remastered versions of the Sound of Lies (1997), Smile (2000) and Rainy Day Music (2003). The trilogy includes bonus tracks, alternative versions, demos, live takes, new liner notes and unreleased material from the band’s e […]
  • Selwyn Birchwood in Durham Central Park (Durham, N.C. - July 18, 2014)
    If you go to a Selwyn Birchwood show, the dance floor should be packed with enthusiastic hoofers. If not, the young Florida-based guitarist has a back-up plan: To ensure that there's at least one dancer gyrating to the beat, a mummified muppet voodoo doll dangles by his neck in front of the kick drum, hinged limbs jerking with every thump, paying silent […]
  • A Preview: Pt. Reyes’ Far West Fest Is a Huge Model for Pint-sized Festivals
    For the last six years, my husband Dave and I have been involved in a funky little homegrown festival called the Far West Fest in Pt. Reyes Station, Calif. For us, it’s a great way to get back to our theatrical roots while helping to support live music. We have stage-managed at least one of the three stages and been involved in set-up,… […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!


Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter